Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres: Major Changes on the Horizon

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 26: Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres sits on the ice after giving up Washingtons' second goal of the game at First Niagara Center on December 26, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.Buffalo won 4-2.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Aaron McKinneyCorrespondent IIIMarch 20, 2013

With Ron Rolston calling up his core from Rochester and Jhonas Enroth showing promise, is most of the current Buffalo Sabres team being put on notice? Hopefully.

Brian Flynn, Kevin Porter and now Mark Pysyk are all now wearing the cross swords. I believe the arrival of these players is only a precursor to a "housecleaning" by Darcy Regier leading up to the trade deadline and during this offseason. It's becoming more and more clear that this team, as much as they have been performing better since Rolston took over, is still probably too far behind to make the playoffs. 

There is a list of players—Jochen Hecht, Drew Stafford, Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr—that should consider their time with the Sabres running out. Hecht has been a healthy scratch and was a favorite of former coach Lindy Ruff. Stafford has recently expressed interest in leaving. Leopold and Regehr are over 30 and have expiring contracts. 

That is a large chunk of salary cap as well. This team will have plenty of space under the cap to make a move or two. There is also another move that seems to be zipping around: trading Ryan Miller.

It's really no secret that Miller's time is also short. If this team is to rebuild, he probably isn't interested himself and the team probably needs to explore a younger option. One of those options is Jhonas Enroth, who had a very strong showing last night against the Montreal Canadiens.

I'm not saying that Enroth is the answer, but he did pass last night's test with flying colors. There are other options to replace Miller, including the talents of Jonathan Bernier, which are wasting away behind Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles. One thing is for sure: The front office has invested so much in Miller that there are no options in the system outside of Enroth.

There also needs to be a change in player leadership. Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are suitable assistant captains, to me. Pominville just doesn't possess the right personality for team captain. That's no slight against him. He's just not that type of leader.

I love what Steve Ott brings to this team, and Ville Leino seems to be showing why Regier paid him to come to town, but neither strike me as what they need in a captain. I feel like the only player on the roster who may be a solid choice is Tyler Ennis. 

We also shouldn't necessarily look at guys like Flynn and Porter as guys who are locks to be on the roster. Honestly, neither seems like nightly NHL talent. There are options in free agency. The names that stand out to me include Valtteri Filppula, Dustin Penner, David Clarkson, Stephen Weiss and Mark Streit. Streit could also be a candidate for captain.

Regardless, there will be many changes. There may even be a new coach, although Rolston seems to be making progress with the current team. There will be quite a few changes, and it could start leading into the trade deadline.

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